PHINALLY: The Night We Won the World Series
Wow. We did it. We phinally did it. After 28 brutal seasons without a championship, the Phightin' Phillies are the last remaining team in the major leagues. The World Series champions. No matter what happens to this team in future years, baseball cannot take away our world championship. This is the greatest feeling I have ever had in my entire life.
I made the trip from Messiah College in Harrisburg to Philadelphia on Monday night with my brother and my cousin. The trip was a total disappointment. I expected to have the greatest night of my entire life. Instead, I had one of the worst, thanks to lots of freezing rain and even a minor car accident on the ride home.
We made the trip again on Wednesday night, with the same expectations as Monday night. And this time, they were fulfilled. I'll never forget that ninth inning, standing outside of Chickie and Pete's with about 100 other people, just a couple of blocks from the stadium.
The TVs inside were about 20 feet away from the window, so it was difficult to see from outside. In the top of the ninth inning, Evan Longoria fouled off a 2-2 pitch from Brad Lidge. The entire crowd on the sidewalk went crazy, jumping up and down, celebrating what we thought was the first out of the inning, and third-to-last of the season. It was only after we saw Longoria stay in the batter's box that we realized that the pitch had been fouled off.
When Ben Zorbist hit a line drive to right field with one out and a runner on second base, my heart momentarily stopped beating. I, along with probably 37 million other Phillies phans, thought that Zorbist had just tied the game. But Fernando Perez, the fastest runner on either team and maybe the fastest player in the game of baseball, was forced to hold at second base, while pinch-hitter Eric Hinske stepped to the plate, representing the winning run.
Hinske fouled off Lidge's first pitch, to the delight of the crowd. Hinske check-swung on Lidge's second pitch. Home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg hesitated, and then ruled that Hinske had swung through. And, with an 0-2 count, Hinske swung and missed on Lidge's slider.
The crowd outside Chickie and Pete's froze, just flat-out froze, for a split second, maybe even longer. Nobody moved, nobody even breathed. It was as if everybody was thinking, “Is this it? Was it that easy? Did we really just win the World Series?” And nobody wanted to celebrate prematurely, especially after the entire crowd overreacted to Longoria's foul at the start of the inning.
Then we realized that the game had actually ended. And the place went absolutely crazy! It was the most insane I have ever seen a crowd of people in my entire life. People were jumping up and down, throwing things, high-fiving strangers, and hugging strangers.
I sprinted to the sidewalk and headed for the stadium. The 5-minute run there was absolutely glorious. I don't even know how to celebrate a championship—this was my first--but I waved both rally towels in the air, screaming as loud as I could. The street was virtually empty, but the few cars that drove by were honking their horns as loudly as possible.
I high-fived approximately 33,000 phans that night, all of whom I didn't know. I hugged dozens of complete strangers. Everybody was screaming and running around and it was the happiest place on earth.
Citizens Bank Park eventually opened the left-field gates, and instead of leaving the stadium, fans sprinted into the ballpark. I was able to squeeze my way into the corner of the left-field bleachers, where I witnessed dozens of people dropping their rally towels into the outfield dirt. Cops patrolled the outfield fences, and were rubbing the towels in the dirt and tossing them back to the crowd. I was lucky enough to collect some official 'stadium' dirt.
After leaving the stadium, I saw Phillies phans swarming the street at the intersection of Broad Street and Pattison Avenue. I saw people climbing on top of street signs, climbing across street lights, jumping on cars, jumping off cars, throwing glass bottles, and spraying champagne. I saw fires started in trash cans, and some fires not in trash cans. Cars were overturned and store windows were smashed in. Every single car leaving the parking lot was blaring its horn. This celebration continued well into the night and the ride home on the train was just as crazy, minus the throwing of glass bottles (and the fires).
It was the greatest night of my entire life. Philadelphia needed this. They've experienced the agony of defeat. Many, many times. The most painful defeat of my lifetime was to another Tampa Bay team, in another sport. Philadelphia needed to experience the thrill of a championship. They needed their phans to experience the thrill of a championship. This is a day that will be savored from now until eternity.
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